Saturday, February 20, 2010

Wrapping up the first 30+ days

I haven't really had anything to add about my experiment in a while. I tried to keep a consistent schedule for over 30 days, at which point it became clear that I'm not able to do that every day. I think it's really necessary in order to make a plan with a short core sleep work.

Days where I had no choice but to give up my morning nap or where I didn't get high quality sleep during it were hard, and after several days of that in a row, I decided to give up on forcing any schedule and just sleep as my body felt like for a while, with the caveats that I take a nap every day (whenever I could work it in or felt like it, no certain time) and that I keep an early wake-up time to stay in the habit of getting up and staying up when I first awaken. There are many benefits to getting up early, which I won't outline in detail today. I settled on 5 am; I think this is a commonly picked time for a reason. It's early and has you waking before dark, but not several hours before daylight. It's easy to maintain without extra effort.

I've been staying busy and haven't given much thought to sleep schedules lately, but I want to take some time to see how much sleep I seem to "naturally" want after a few weeks of adjusting to this program of the daily nap and waking up at a set time each morning. With that information, I'll decide what I'd like to do in the future. Right now, I seem to be sleeping about 4-6 hours at night, plus a nap of 30-90 minutes.

I still think that napping at least once during the day adds a lot of benefits, and sleeping shorter hours at night makes one more likely to take the nap and get the most from it. However, with not being able to get a nap at a consistent time, 3 hours is too little for the core sleep. I think I need at least 4.5 hours in order to not get fatigued if I miss my nap.

Anyway, the summation of my 30 day experiment: the 3 hour core plus 90 minute nap is adequate, if you unfailingly take it everyday at around the same time. However, expecting to be able to do that seems to be unrealistic. I don't know if I would continue attempting it in the future, even if I could fully set my own schedule, because it is too hard on you if some unforeseen event causes a significant deviation. I'll have to do some more thinking about whether I'd like to attempt any other schedules. Right now, I'm not feeling that "gaining" a lot of hours by sleeping less is worth it if I risk fatigue.

Although I haven't gotten the least bit sick since starting this experiment, I've had some days when I felt bad, and I questioned whether having that kind of stress on a regular basis is healthy. When dependent on regularly scheduled naps, getting really worn out is a daily possibility. Even if I got all of my sleep, just spending all the extra time working seemed to leave me more tired.

I think more recovery time is necessary, although I still think that taking all your sleep in one 9-hour go is not ideal either, so I am not advocating giving up polyphasic sleep. I just think some other scheme than what I was doing would be better for those who don't have a regular daily schedule.

Anyway, I'm just doing whatever comes naturally to me (with those two restrictions) for a while, giving that a try, and considering whether I like that or if I want to attempt something else. Experimenting has been fun, but I don't think it's realistic for something long-term at this time. My main goal is to add to my health by taking more naps, and not to cause myself fatigue by doing something that results in missed sleep. I'll evaluate what works for that, and plan a new course.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Day 29: Breakthrough?

I'll get straight to the subject of the title: I woke up from my 3-hour core sleep tonight before my alarm went off. It's after 5 am, and I've now been up for over 2 hours without feeling sleepy enough to go back to bed. I even tested it by reclining on my bed for a while, and I didn't feel at all in danger of dozing off. This feels like I've made a genuine breakthrough in adapting. It's a little exciting.

Now, I'll go back over the days since my previous update:

On the night of the 25th, I slept my core from midnight to 3, as has inadvertently become my habit. For some reason, it still feels "early" to go to bed before midnight. I woke up at 3 feeling good, but also yawning and sleepy. I had to be out at my usual naptime around noon -- and I was feeling a bit tired then. I tried to doze in the car while someone else drove, and I got a little rested from this, but it wasn't adequate. I finally got a chance to nap at 15:00, and I decided at this time to just lay down and see how long I naturally slept, as I was really exhausted and figured I might need some extra sleep to make up for the lateness of the nap. I slept for almost exactly 3 hours, and woke up just after sunset feeling a little surprised that I woke up in the dark and was wide awake. I always find it a little eerie to wake up at that time, because it feels like waking up at dawn, except the light is vanishing.

That night, I had a little trouble falling asleep, and finally dozed off close to 1:00. I woke up at about 2:20, about 80-90 minutes later. I felt okay and was tempted to get up, but I decided to go finish the core sleep, as I'd set my alarm for 3 hours at 00:30. So, I woke up with the alarm at 3:30. Felt the same as the night before, sleepy but not exactly tired. I sat in an armless chair to relax and work without danger of getting too comfortable and dozing. I stayed busy all morning and then took my nap at 11:30. I was very tired by then, but I had a hard time sleeping and felt a little anxious about getting enough rest. I woke up at 12:30 on my own, after a few short dozes. I was tired but also felt decent. I went to bed earlier that night, and set my alarm for 2:30, as I was still wanting to move my core sleep back from 23:00 - 2:00. Anyway, when I woke up at 2:30, I was okay but still rather tired. I decided to take my morning nap early, and I had a hard time getting up from it. I slept 90 minutes, woke up exhausted, and slept 90 minutes again to try to feel better. I don't know if it was an accumulation of fatigue, or the fact that I took the first nap during my sleepiest hours, but I didn't really get rested. I felt better later in the day.

Last night, I felt a little tired around 23:30 and decided to run with that. I went to bed and set my alarm for 3, as that seemed to be working for me, and laid down and tried to go straight to sleep rather than laying in bed and reading until I'm ready to fall asleep, like I usually do -- it's difficult for me to get sleepy at that hour unless I'm just exhausted. I fell asleep before midnight, and then woke up at about 2:50, without the alarm, and feeling good. I got up feeling enthusiastic about waking up naturally, and have not felt like dozing off at all.

It's really a different feeling than I've had the last several days. I feel like maybe, *maybe* I've gotten over the morning sleepiness. I'm going to do my best to get in a good 90 minute nap before noon, and hope that keeps me going strong like this.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Day 25: So close

I'm starting to feel like I'm getting closer and closer to being adapted. I'm measuring this by how sleepy I am when I wake up from naps. If this schedule works for me, and I'm adapted, I'm thinking that I shouldn't get extremely sleepy between naps. My goal is to be up at 4:00 and feel normal, not like I could lay down and go back to sleep. Right now, I'm still experiencing sleepiness about an hour or two after my core sleep, and I actually dozed off at that time this morning because I made the mistake of sitting in my bed rather than getting up to use the computer. Otherwise, things are looking really good.

I'm consistently waking up from my noon nap feeling decent, and I've been getting it on time mostly. I did have a set back in that I went to sleep late Saturday night, as I just didn't feel like sleeping. I slept about 2-5 that night. Sunday, I was feeling tired because of this, and I took an extra nap in the afternoon, sleeping for about 80 minutes. I woke up from this feeling really, really good. That made me feel like I was making real progress and that napping worked. I slept from midnight 'til 3 last night, and again woke up feeling good and alert. And then I had the set back with wanting to doze off in the morning. I can't say that I was really tired, it was just the time of day, again. That's the hardest thing for me to struggle with right now. I think if I can go several more days without letting my guard down and dozing in the morning, I might be adapted. Right now, I'm feeling decent, and I think I'll be better later in the day.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Day 24: Brief discussion of polyphasing and diet

Since a lot of people who are interested in polyphasic sleep are curious about the diet/physical health aspect, I'll talk about my own experiences with that some.

I haven't felt a need to increase my food intake any since I started polyphasing, and this surprised me. However, I have been drinking more water and tea while on this schedule. I usually keep a drink with me at home and have some of it occasionally. With more time spent awake, I'm sure that I'm getting more to drink this way. I haven't had any days when I've felt dehydrated. Previously, when I've had days where I stayed awake longer than 20 hours and then had a long sleep period after, I'd sometimes wake up feeling dehydrated and maybe having a headache after 8+ hours of sleep. When I'm not sleeping any more than 3 hours at a time, I haven't been experiencing this.

I haven't been any hungrier or thirstier, and ingesting more liquid just seems to be a result of spending more hours awake while sipping some water/tea. I still don't eat much at night, and never have, even when I've stayed up most of the night in the past. I have breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and one or two snacks a day. It's rare that I have a snack after dinner. I know some people experience more hunger when they're awake more, or feel driven to eat to keep themselves awake when they're fighting sleep deprivation. That doesn't really ever happen to me. I typically don't become hungry between dinner and breakfast. The way I'd describe it is that my digestive system seems to go to sleep at night, a few hours before my typical sleep time, and it takes a while to wake up in the morning. The earliest I eat breakfast is about 6:00.

Actually, the previous description is probably inaccurate. What is most likely going on is that my hunger follows a circadian rhythm, and I've never developed a need to eat at night. I'm usually doing low-energy activities when I first wake up, too. When I take my nap just before lunch, I wake up hungry. So sleeping itself has no effect, it's the time of day.

There are different reports about how polyphasic sleep affects weight and stress hormones that might contribute to weight gain. Some seem to report experiencing release of these stress hormones from sleep deprivation, and having associated increase in appetite and weight gain. I haven't experienced that, so I would say that's a good indication that I haven't felt much sleep deprivation so far. I've actually lost some weight, but it's <5 pounds, such a small amount that I can't say for certain whether it's connected to the polyphasic sleeping or not. Lots of things can cause minor fluctuations in weight. Some report losing weight with polyphasic sleep due to expending more calories since they're awake more, and I'd say that's a possibility.

I definitely don't think I'm getting any increase in stress hormones. In fact, I would say that I've been more relaxed due to having a sleep schedule that I'm happy with and that, so far, I haven't had many problems keeping. Probably having some more time awake during the peaceful nighttime hours helps as well.

I haven't intentionally changed my diet any while changing my sleep schedule, and I haven't noticed a difference in what I want to eat, either. I briefly covered how I typically eat in my "about" section. Basically, I'm an omnivore (I have some of everything), but I try to keep my diet natural and avoid eating chemical preservatives and refined sugar. I eat a lot of dairy, vegetables, fruit, and white meat. I haven't intentionally eaten beef in about 12 years, since I first heard about madcow disease. That made me aware of how badly beef cattle were treated, the bad diet they're fed, and the sloppy butchering process that was contaminating meat. It also made me realize that I do believe in respecting cows for providing us with milk. I have eaten buffalo and lamb occasionally, as they're said to be healthier red meats, and the animals are supposedly treated better since raising them is not the big industrial operation that raising beef cattle is. That basically covers it. Oh, I also have a little caffeine every day from tea and decaf coffee, usually at breakfast and lunch.

Also, just to avoid confusion and for full disclosure and whatnot, I want to point out that I am female. I have that written on the blog somewhere, but I know that can get overlooked. I think it's cool that the internet is so anonymous that some people couldn't tell, and it's not a big deal to me if anyone assumes I'm male. I just wanted to point it out while talking about physiology here.

That's all I can think of for now.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Day 22: Futility of extra naps

Everything has been going well overall with the schedule. I'm having no problem with going to sleep at night and waking up 3 hours later, feeling refreshed and alert. I've even moved my core sleep back a few nights when I wanted to stay up late for doing something. I've gone to sleep as late as 2 and woke up at 5, and continued the schedule as usual, taking my 90-minute nap around lunchtime. I've actually been able to move my nap some as well on days when I had nothing to do in the morning or wanted to be available at noon for something. I originally wanted it to be about 11:30-13:00, but one day I did it about 9:30-11:00, and another day 10:30-12:00. No problems from this, so it seems that I'm getting relatively adapted and having some flexibility in my schedule.

Although I'm having no trouble waking up at night from the core sleep, I am still sometimes getting sleepy about an hour after waking up from the core. Like my body still wants to go back to bed at the early morning time when I'm typically sleepiest. So I have not yet overcome that urge to sleep then completely, although I am getting much better at waking up with the alarm.

I thought I might try to abate the sleepiness some by taking a 30 minute nap when I'm really tired. I've found that adding in short extra naps doesn't really do much for me, though. I wake up feeling just as tired as I did when I went to sleep when I nape in the early morning; evening naps are better and usually refreshing. I think that, again, this is just due to me being most sleepy in the morning. Taking an extra nap then doesn't really seem to do anything, and doing so probably just prolongs the difficulty of getting over sleeping then. The best thing to do is to just keep my waking time as consistent as possible and do something to wake myself up then, to make it clear to my body that this is no longer the time for sleep.

I know other people have said they had success with extra naps, but I'm now thinking that it might be a futile addition that doesn't really solve the problem. Perhaps it depends on the schedule. Those without a core sleep who are training themselves to always sleep for 20-30 minutes might do better with it.

I feel that I've made some progress in no longer being so groggy immediately upon waking from the core sleep (something that was a real problem for me with previous attempts), and I've at least trained myself to do something there. Or maybe this schedule just works out better for me. I feel like it hasn't been so difficult at all compared to trying to do other things in the past. There are many reasons that could be, and most of it probably has to do with having previous experience and having developed some skills in efficient sleeping and the desire to keep going with this.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Day 18

I want to correct an erroneous assumption I'd made in the past. I believe I've said in this blog something that I've often heard others say and that I'd previously thought true: sometimes it's hard to fall asleep because my mind just won't be quiet. I've determined that, although laying in bed with my thoughts racing is related to not sleeping, the unquiet mind does not cause the lack of sleep. Rather, it is being in bed, in a quiet, dark room, and unable to sleep, that causes my mind to wander like that. Sometimes being in this state will make me suddenly feel more awake as I think of something that I want to do when I get up, and I anticipate doing that. However, this is caused by and not the cause of sleeplessness. Because, truthfully, when I am really, really tired and sleepy, no amount of racing thoughts or desires to do something will keep me awake while I'm lying in bed. No matter how burning that desire is to just read a little more, or whatever I'm doing, when I'm genuinely sleepy, I can't do it.

I'd previously mentioned maybe taking a short, 20-30 minute nap this time of day on days when I'm tired, but I was unable to do it today. I am feeling rather fatigued, although I don't know if that's due to polyphasic adaptation or due to my workload/spending too much time busy. For me, being fatigued does not equate to being sleepy. I'm not sleepy, so I am unable to nap. Other than the fatigue today, though, I feel that I'm doing fine with my adaptation. I hope to get some good sleep during my core tonight and maybe get rested up. I had no problem waking up from the core this morning, but found myself dozing a little while I sat in bed. As I enter what should be the harder part of the adaptation, I need to be vigilant against that, and make myself get up and work on the computer at that time. The artificial light helps one stay awake. I'll reserve reading for daylight hours if I find myself getting too tired at night.

I'm not sure how long to test a sleep pattern before determining its efficacy. I'm going to say that 2-3 weeks should be a decent test. If after 3 weeks I am fatigued and sleepy for long periods before or after naps, this is probably a sign that it's not working. So I will try to pay close attention to my energy levels for the next couple of weeks and see if there's any improvement.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day 16

I am back on the schedule and the adaptation path after two good naps today.

I learn the lesson again and again that I need to sleep on my back. I may start out feeling more comfortable in another position, but I will wake up with my head starting to ache after a bit, and keep doing so until I just sleep on my back. Sleep is much deeper that way.

I had a very interesting experience entering my morning nap today. I did not feel that tired when I laid down for my nap, but did feel like I could sleep. I relaxed and started to daydream, and the daydream just became deeper and more detailed until I was lucid dreaming. Very odd, but satisfying experience.

Not much else in other news. I spent my time this morning playing STO beta, which may be a waste of effort, but it was a lot of fun and a good motivator for getting up this morning. Probably not going to play it much except to check in and see what they're improving on it. It's a surprisingly enjoyable game.

As of this writing, I don't feel the least bit sleep-deprived, but of course that's to be expected with just getting back on the schedule after freesleeping for almost a week. I hope for a good nap again tonight, and some productive activity later.